Festivals in the Spring
Chinese New Year
(31 January 2014)
Chinese New Year is a major festival which is celebrated around the world by the Chinese community. It is a time to reunite families and gifts are made to young people. It occurs between late January and around mid-February.
The Chinese calendar has twelve or thirteen months of 29-30 days each year, following the movements of the moon. The months are numbered (not named) and a thirteenth month is inserted every three or four years. Each year is associated with one of the twelve animal signs.
Mardi-Gras or Shrove Tuesday
(4 March 2014)
Mardi-Gras is mainly celebrated in Roman Catholic countries and communities. Translated it means "fat Tuesday", and is correctly the day on which there is a last opportunity to indulge in food and drink before Ash Wednesday and the start of the fast of Lent, the 40 days leading up to Easter when Christians commemorate Christ's fasting in the wilderness. Mardi-Gras was originally one of a series of carnival days but it now usually refers to not just one day but several days of festivities. In England Mardi-Gras is known as Shrove Tuesday and it is celebrated by the traditional making of pancakes. In many towns and villages people take part in pancake races, where they race carrying a frying pan tossing their pre-cooked pancake in the air.
The word carnival comes from the words 'Carne vale', which means 'farewell to meat' and is used to describe the festivities around Mardi-Gras. In Brazil there is a world famous carnival in Rio de Janeiro, where people party in the streets and there are magnificent parades of with floats, and people wear spectacular costumes and dancing.
(15 March 2014 - first day)
This lively Jewish festival held in the Spring, celebrates the story of Esther, Queen of the Persians. Ester saved her people from destruction by Haman, the Kings chief advisor who had ordered that all the Jews should be killed. The story of Esther, which is taken from the bible, is read aloud and whenever the name Haman is mentioned a loud noise erupts when the people try to drown out the sound of his name. Children in particular enjoy enacting the story, booing, and hissing and stamping their feet and shaking rattles called greggers when Haman appears.
(17 March 2014)
Holi is a very colourful and exuberant festival, it is celebrated on the day of the full moon in March in the month of Phalguna. It marks the end of winter when the harvest has been gathered in. The night before Holi, bonfires are lit in the hope that they will get rid of any evil spirits, and to remind people of Prahlad who was led into a bonfire by the wicked Holika, after whom this festival is named. Prahlad survived the fire because God looked after him but Holi perished, thus proving that good triumphs over evil.
The morning after the bonfires are lit, great fun is had when everyone sprays each other with coloured water. Special water squirters can be bought, although plastic bottles and bike pumps are also used to squirt the water which has been mixed with bright coloured powder called gulal, so that everyone ends up highly coloured. The festival ends in the afternoon with families spending time together.
(30 March 2014 in UK)
Mother's Day or Mothering Sunday is a Christian celebration which occurs on the fourth Sunday during Lent. Most churches have a special service on this Sunday, the name originates from a time when people used to return home to their Mother Church for this special service. In England it is a day when both adults and children say thank you to their Mothers cards and a gifts, very often of flowers are given.
In France a similar celebration takes place before the last Sunday in May, it is called Fêtes des Mères when everyone can give their Mother gifts.
(20 April 2014 - Easter Sunday )
Easter is a Christian festival which commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ, corresponding to Passover it is observed on a variable Sunday, in the months of either March or April. Gifts of edible eggs (usually made of chocolate) are sometimes given on Easter Sunday. Many groups working with children will celebrate by having an Easter Hat parade, with hats usually based around a theme of chicks,eggs, rabbits and spring flowers.
Cherry blossom Festival
Held in early Spring, this is the most famous of Japanese festivals. The beauty of the Cherry blossom trees, wild ones in particular, is celebrated and the tradition is an ancient one. Although there is no specific religious significance to the festival, many of the finest examples of Cherry Blossom can be found around Shinto Shrines or holy mountains.